BOWL PREDICTIONS: A majority of the college football analysts are starting to agree on their predictions for the 2014 Gildan New Mexico Bowl. Utah State, which garnered 7 of the 13 predictions viewed, is the top vote-getter in the Mountain West. UTEP is the favorite from Conference USA, grabbing 6 bids. Two projections (Campus Insiders and College Football News) foresee Conference USA vacating it's spot and filling it with Houston. Here is the breakdown for the 2014 bowl game:
POSTSEASON PREVIEW: There are currently 51 teams that are bowl-eligibility, which requires six or more wins in most cases. There are 50 teams which could still get eligible and 27 that have been eliminated from the postseason, including Idaho (Sun Belt), which is eliminated due to NCAA probation. For our aligned leagues, Conference USA has 13 teams and five bowl commitments while the Mountain West has 12 teams and 6 commitments. Both leagues also have one game where they are slated as a back-up.
Conference USA's Marshall, Louisiana Tech and Rice are eligible for a bowl while Middle Tennessee, UAB and UTEP all need one more win. C-USA's North Texas needs to win the rest of its games to avoid elimination while FIU, Florida Atlantic, UTSA and Southern Miss are already ineligible. Old Dominion has four of the six wins needed with two games remaining. However, the Monarchs are in the transitioning period and ineligible for a postseason berth unless there are not enough bowl-eligible teams to fill every game. The road to a bowl for those still looking to get eligible looks like:
Middle Tennessee (5-4): at FIU (3-7), Florida Atlantic (3-7), at UTEP (5-4)
North Texas (3-6): at UTEP (5-4), FIU (3-7), at UTSA (2-7)
Old Dominion (4-6): La Tech (7-3), at Florida Atlantic (3-7)
UAB (5-5): Marshall (9-0), at Southern Miss (3-7)
UTEP (5-4): North Texas (3-6), at Rice (6-3), Middle Tennessee (5-4)
WKU (4-5): Army (3-6), UTSA (2-7), at Marshall (9-0)
The MW's Air Force, Boise State, Colorado State, Nevada and Utah State have the wins needed for a postseason berth. San Diego State needs one more victory while Fresno State, New Mexico, San Jose State and Wyoming must win the rest of its games in order to make a bowl. Hawai'i and UNLV have been eliminated. The road to a bowl for those still looking to get eligible looks like:
RECAPPING THE WEEKEND: Both the Mountain West and Conference USA had six games in Week 11, beginning with Utah State and Wyoming battling in a MW game on national TV Friday night. The Aggies posted 17 on the scoreboard in the first quarter, which was more than enough for their seventh win. Air Force and Colorado State blew out UNLV and Hawai'i, respectively, with over 20-point victories. Boise State rallied late to hand New Mexico another loss at home and Fresno State stayed alive in its bid for the post season with a 14-point win over San Jose State.
Rice became the third C-USA team to become bowl-eligible with a 17-7 win over UTSA on Saturday. Western Kentucky spoiled UTEP's presumed 6th win, scoring 21 unanswered points in the second half. North Texas picked up its first league win, dominating Florida Atlantic and eliminating the Owls from bowl contention. Marshall remained undefeated thanks to 35 unanswered second-half points. The Herd trailed Southern Miss by 14 early, which was the largest deficit they've faced since last year's C-USA Championship game. Complete results for the week are available in the attached PDF.
THIS WEEK'S GAMES TO WATCH FOR: Conference USA gets play going on Thursday night as Southern Miss takes on UTSA for the first time. The game airs at 7 p.m. CT, and is nationally televised on CBS Sports. The top game for C-USA Saturday is the Rice vs. Marshall game. The Herd lead the series, 3-2, but the Owls won the last meeting, 41-24, in the C-USA Championship game. Another big game for the league is the North Texas-UTEP contest. The Mean Green have dominated the Miners, winning last year's game 41-7 and pushing their series lead to 14-5-3.
The Mountain West's most anticipated game is the last one of the day in San Diego State at Boise State. Kicking off at 8:15 p.m. MT on ESPNU from Boise, the Broncos aim to even the series at 2 and avenge last year's 34-31 overtime loss in San Diego. The league has two other games airing on ESPN networks as New Mexico at Utah State kicks off on ESPNews at 2 p.m. MT and UNLV takes on former MW foe BYU on ESPNU at 5 p.m. MT. For a complete schedule with series notes, see page 1 of the attached PDF.